Pyrtle celebrates National Blue Ribbon School honor

Pyrtle Elementary School on Wednesday celebrated its recent honor of being named a National Blue Ribbon School with an assembly attended by its fifth graders and leaders from Lincoln Public Schools.

Principal Kristen Finley said the journey that led to this honor began two years ago, when teachers and staff began collaborating and developing data-driven strategies to improve their students’ academic success. 

They focused on learning targets, opportunities to respond, cooperative learning and feedback. They also never lost sight of the vital role that social-emotional development plays in a student’s academic journey.

“The teachers at Pyrtle never give up. They take on challenges and problem-solve anything that is sent our way,” said Finley, who went on to thank the school’s students for their hard work, as well as their families for their unwavering support and partnership.  

Pyrtle joins 367 other K-12 schools in the country honored by the U.S. Department of Education. It’s one of only six schools in Nebraska honored this year and only the seventh LPS school honored since the award’s inception in 1982.

“Years from now,” said LPS Superintendent Steve Joel, “if you want to win an argument when people try to tell you they went to a better school than you, you can say, ‘But I bet you never attended a National Blue Ribbon School.’”

Joel was joined on Wednesday by Lincoln Board of Education President Kathy Danek, board member Connie Duncan and LPS Associate Superintendent for Instruction Matt Larson.

The school’s colors are blue and yellow and most of the students, teachers and staff wore blue clothing on Wednesday.

“You’re wearing blue because you are one of the few,” Danek said.

The event also featured two student speakers, fifth-graders Vasya Mironov and Bryar Ashby.

“Pyrtle is the best school because Pytrle has very good friendships, awesome teachers, and a great, honest principal,” Mironov said. 

Bryer began her remarks by thanking the teachers but said they’re not the only ones worthy of praise.

“They are not the only heroes in our school,” she said. “Our staff gives us a great environment to learn.”

The U.S. Department of Education recognizes schools in one of two performance categories, based on all student scores, student subgroup scores and graduation rates. Pyrtle received the Exemplary High Performing School award. Schools in this category are among their state’s highest performing schools as measured by state assessments or nationally normed tests.

Published: October 14, 2020, Updated: October 15, 2020